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Topic: Re: The Prime Directive
Replies: 1   Last Post: Oct 2, 2012 2:22 PM

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Paul A. Tanner III

Posts: 5,920
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: The Prime Directive
Posted: Oct 2, 2012 11:51 AM
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On Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 10:07 AM, Haim <> wrote:
> Paul A. Tanner, III Posted: Oct 1, 2012 1:13 PM

>>No, it is the other way around. You refuse to accept the

> If, by "you" you mean Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance and The American Institute of Physics, then you are correct, I guess. I am just the messenger.

Yes, I meant you and what you say here at math-teach as well as this and any other such study.

If you actually look at the study's link and the data they are using, you will see that they are using data from 8th graders (roughly 13 years old) on NAEP (a US test, not an international test) and from 15 year old students on PISA.

How come they look at test data *only* from the younger ages of 13 and 15 when the most important age to look at by far is test data from the advanced students at the age of a graduating high school senior, aged 18 for the US?

They looked at only test data from general tests given to the general population at the younger ages, and therefore silently claimed that no other test data at the later and most important age of 18 and from the most important group, that being the advanced students at that age, are important. This, when these latter are by far more important because of the fact that this is about the claim (proved false by the facts below) that you keeping making here by sometimes citing studies like this that the US education system is not producing enough high school graduates literate in advanced math to major in math-based disciplines in college.

I again state the facts that all need to know and acknowledge:

People need to look beneath the surface to see what the truth reall is, which includes the following set of facts that shows that not only is there no collapse of public education in the US in terms of advanced math, we have very much the opposite:

Fact: Because of the success of advanced math education in the US public school system, the US now has roughly 5% of its entire high school senior aged population (and this includes all those not in school or in vocational schools or whatever) take *and* pass a national AP calculus exam covering an entire year of high school calculus. Very few countries on the entire planet - regardless of the ethnic demographic of the country's student population - could say that they have an advanced math education system that yields this high a percentage of the its entire high school senior aged population that could take *and* pass a national calculus exam covering an entire year of high school calculus. And when we look at only those US high school students that actually completed calculus classes that actually were certified by the AP Calculus testing body to follow the AP Calculus guidelines, we see these students scoring very much higher on advanced international tests than those advanced students of all other countries taking the tests.

Fact: In roughly 30 years, this percentage of the entire high school senior aged population of the US that has taken *and* passed a national calculus exam has increased from roughly half a percent to the present roughly five percent, an entire order of magnitude increase.

[This 5% is presently roughly 200,000 out of roughly 4 million of high school senior age. Roughly 300,000 take the the test, and roughly 450,000 take AP Calculus, and roughly 600,000 take a class called calculus. And since many more take math beyond Algebra II but not calculus, there easily could be much more than a million who take a math class in high school beyond Algebra II. But by looking at modern Algebra II textbooks compared to older ones, there is much precalculus math in the newer ones like analytic trig that was not in the older ones. Millions now take at least Algebra II before graduating. Now take the percentages on all these numbers based on that rough 4 million figure, recalling who that 4 million figure covers.

But let's stick to that 5% if you wish: How is 5% taking *and* passing an AP Calculus exam not large enough to compete globally with these other countries when all or almost all of these other countries cannot match this? And if not enough of this 5% do not choose to major in STEM majors to suit you because there are other majors that hold the promise of a better chance to make more money - medicine, law, certain business school majors such as in finance or such that they actually become the bosses of those who major in STEM majors, and so on, then too bad. That's the nature of the free enterprise beast. Perhaps you need to realize that you will need to entice people to major instead in these lower paying STEM jobs with money in the form of free tuition or whatever. Otherwise, stop complaining and stop making the false claim that the US school system is not graduating enough people who know enough advanced math well enough to major in a STEM major if they wanted to.]

Here is a post I gave recently outlining some of all these facts above - this post contains many citations and links to these citations:

"Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?"

We need to look beneath the surface to be fair, to see what is really happening in the US, to see that, again, the US pubic school system in some measurable ways is doing as well or better than just about any other country in the world not only for its whole population but for its advanced students. (This does not mean of course that the system could not do even better.)

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